Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Traditional Irish Hallowe'en Barmbrack Recipe With My Mammy! (@fitzwithfood)

I never liked brack growing up. Similarly to Christmas cake, I didn't get why I'd choose a cake with fruit in it. It didn't make sense.

My palate has changed wildly in the last few years, though. I rarely order dessert out and don't crave sweets in the same way anymore. I love spicy food now and I'm always up for trying new things. And, somehow, in the midst of all this, brack slid into my preferences. I can't tell you when or why or how but I suddenly started ordering it over rich, chocolatey cakes whenever it was (rarely) on a menu in a cafe. This year, in particular, I've had a real thing for it and was dismayed at how few places were serving it; it's a staple traditional Autumn food in Ireland!

The options in supermarkets weren't much better: all unwieldy, big, cheap, packaged things with little soul. I wanted something fresh and homemade but it clearly wasn't going to happen. So, I suggested my mother and I finally do our collab and make our own brack (with her invaluable know-how) and show others how to do the same.

Mammy is a wonderful cook and baker, in particular. She always has been but she has only really indulged it in the past year or two, since my siblings graduated and she has had more emotional and physical space to focus on herself. At my encouragement, she started an Instagram profile to record her adventures in food, cooking and baking and it has become a passion project. Seeing her finally do something for herself and something she is so good at and interested in has been a joy and I had been wanting to collaborate beyond tagging her in things for a while now.

This weekend, we finally got to it. Here is our recipe for the perfect, loaf-style barmbrack - a traditional fruit-based Irish cake or sweet bread that is served around Hallowe'en and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. Traditionally, different objects are placed inside and the person who gets a slice with that object would have the corresponding fortune (a pea for those who would not marry that year, a stick for an unhappy marriage, a cloth for poverty or bad luck, a coin for good fortune or wealth and a ring for those who would get married within the year) but we weren't interesting in that (slightly unsanitary) tradition. We were interested in the taste.



225g of Self Raising Flour
350g of Dried Fruit Mix
300ml of cold Tea
125g of Golden Caster Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
A good pinch of Mixed Spice


1. Place a couple of tea bags in a mixing bowl, pour boiling water on top and brew for a few minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and allow the tea to cool.

2. Next, add the fruit mix, cover and leave to soak in the tea over night. Ignore the silly questions from your father and younger brother and tell them to leave the bowl alone. Hopefully, they will comply.

3. The next day, preheat the oven to 170°C. Add the sugar, egg, flour and mixed spice to the bowl with the fruit mix and mix well.

4. Grease and line a cake tin and pour in the mixture.

5. Cook for an hour until risen and firm to the touch. Be sure to listen to your mammy and not open the oven repeatedly throughout, as you are naturally prone to doing. Only check once, about halfway through the hour, if the tops are burning. If so, place some greaseproof paper on top to stop the situation from worsening.

6. Take out of the oven, cool on a wire rack and wait a while, until that cake has fully set and mostly cooled, before cutting. This will be hard as it smells so good. 

7. Serve slathered in Irish butter (don't be shy, worry about your heart later), with a nice cup of tea and don't let the banshee get you!

Thanks to my lovely mammy for helping me out with satisfying my desperate need for a good brack and collabing. It mostly involved us baking all day and laughing, which is the best kind of collab. Give her a follow at @fitzwithfood, it'll make her happy and it'll satisfy your food porn needs for a while.

Happy Hallowe'en, y'all! x


Liked this post? Want more?

Follow me here using google friend connect or bloglovin.

Or follow me on tumblr - twitter - facebook - instagram.

No comments:

Post a Comment